I’ve written about my fondness for fountain pens before. A good fountain pen is, for me, the pinnacle of writing. There is simply nothing that matches the experience of using a quality pen on paper made to reward such an instrument.
I’m on a couple of mailing lists from pen companies and retailers. Just because I’m not buying doesn’t mean I won’t happily browse. Nosing around one of those sites is how I found the ink I use in my main pen (Diamine Ancient Copper, if you’re wondering).
But even I have limits. When I saw a the price tag of a new pen earlier this week, I let out an audible yelp.
The pen in question is gorgeous. It’s from Montegrappa, a company that does good work. I don’t own any of their pens, but I’ve tried a couple in stores. The company’s Homo Sapiens line is particularly intriguing. The pen bodies are made with crushed lava and are pretty much indestructible.
This pen wasn’t one of those, though. It’s a pen made to mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landings. The main body is made to resemble the Saturn V rocket, while the cap is the second stage and the landing module.
It’s a piston-filled pen with a gold nib. Those get a bit more expensive than your cartridge pens, but a good on can still be had for well under $200. Some solid ones go for less than $100.
This pen was $7,290. No, the decimal is not misplaced.
Seven thousand dollars? For a pen? I’d be afraid to write with it. At that price the pen had better be able to ink itself, raise up and transcribe my thoughts, and do so without a single misspelling.
That’s not the highest price tag I’ve seen, either. There’s a set celebrating a pen company’s 100th anniversary that’s currently going for more than $33,000. If I wanted to spend money like that I’d consider flipping houses.
There’s no way I’m paying the nearly a year’s tuition to a public university for a single pen. There’s a less ornate version of the pen that runs about $400, and that’s still too much for me.
I just can’t prioritize form over function to the degree such a purchase would require. The reality is that $7,000 pen isn’t going to write any better than the Lamy 2000 that’s in my shirt pocket. In fact, it’s probably not going to write as well.
I get why pens like that are made. Some people collect them for display and bragging rights more than they do for any real use. But that’s just not why I love fountain pens. For me they’re still essential tools. They’re how I take notes in an interview. They’re a critical component of how I make a living.
Don’t get me wrong. I still appreciate the look on some of the high-end pens. The Apollo anniversary pen is a remarkable piece of art. But I’ll side with Bauhaus on this one. Form needs to follow function.
If I win the lottery one day, though, all bets are off.